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Water Gardens and Water Conservation

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Everyone loves a water garden, but those who live in hot, dry climates are particularly drawn to the cooling, soothing effects that a water feature provides. Where water is sometimes scarce, and water usage closely monitored, however, it is often necessary to keep a close eye on each drop.

Water gardens can be large consumers of water, but they don’t have to be. There is really no need to waste water while enjoying the benefits of a water garden. Large pond or small, using water efficiently will keep fish, plants, fountains, and waterfalls happy and functional.

What’s more, maintaining a water-efficient garden is good regardless of where you live. Water gardens that operate best also require the least amount of added water. Here are some tips that can help you cut your water usage – and, need I add, your water bills – without compromising the quality of your water garden.

Sun and Shade


Most people who install a water garden are warned to keep it far from trees. That’s good advice, up to a point. Falling leaves, needles and cones can contaminate the water and force you to skim the surface regularly. Also, some aquatic plants require a lot of direct sunlight to thrive, and some fish struggle with the cooler water temperatures that a shaded spot will produce.

On the other hand, many water gardens do just fine in shaded locations. Some plants and some fish won’t mind, nor will you if plants and fish are not part of your plans. Further, a shaded water garden will lose less water to evaporation. Just be sure not to excavate too closely to a tree trunk, as roots may slow you down considerably and jeopardize the health of the tree. Try to keep your hole outside of the tree’s “drip line.”

Leaking Liners and Pipes

A liner that leaks can substantially boost the amount of water you need to add regularly to your water garden. The best way to avoid leaks in liners is to use a good quality EPDM liner and take care to avoid damaging it during installation. Flexible liners should be set on a suitable underlayment to provide protection against holes and tears. If you need to join two pieces of flexible liner together, be sure to follow the instructions provided by your manufacturer.

If your water level starts to decline regularly, plan to drain the pool as soon as possible and find the leak. Patch the liner as directed by the manufacturer.

The pipes that carry water to and through your water garden can also develop leaks that can waste large amounts of water. Even a small drip should alert you that now is the time to make a repair.

Watch the Wind


Wind can be a nuisance with a water garden. It can increase evaporation, damage plants, and disrupt water flowing from a fountain. If wind is a problem with an existing water garden, or if you cannot avoid a windy location for your new garden, try to reduce the wind’s impact. Plant a hedgerow or build a fence, for example, to serve as a windbreak.

Don’t Fret the Fountain

Water fountains can serve as the center of attention in a water garden. In areas where water is sometimes a scarce resource, however, you might think of a fountain as an unnecessary waste of water. That really isn’t the case, however. A properly installed fountain merely draws water from the pool and sends it right back to the pool. Only a small amount is lost to evaporation. Just try to avoid installing a fountain in a windy location.

Filters and Water Quality

One of the best ways to reduce water usage in a water garden is to keep the water clean and healthy, thus reducing the need for frequent water changes. And one of the best ways to keep the water clean and healthy is with a good filter and regular filter maintenance.

You can also maintain good water quality by eliminating excess food in a fish pond. Whatever food isn’t eaten within five minutes should be scooped out. And next time, add less food.

Size Matters


Large water gardens require a lot of water to fill and refill. If water usage is a concern, think about creating one or more small water features. If, for example, what most appeals to you is the sound of moving water, you might be content with a container and water fountain, which requires very little water but can create a continuous source of soothing water sounds. You can also install a waterfall without a pond.

Let it Rain

One way people in water-deprived areas conserve water is by collecting rainwater, which can be funneled to a garden or the lawn. Rainwater can also be used to top off a water garden, but care should be taken. Adding too much rainwater could sharply reduce the pH level of the water and threaten the health of plants and fish. As a source of occasional make-up water, though, rainwater is fine (and free!).

Photos courtesy of flickr

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